Thursday, March 31, 2011

MMRCA : Last minute poll !

As the Indian Air Force's short list for the MMRCA should be released soon (check LiveFist :)), I propose a quick poll : see on the right side of the page >>>>

The question is simple :

First, let's suppose that the Rafale is in the short list (fingers crossed), then, in your opinion, which are the 2 other aircrafts that should be in this shoortlist too (in no particular order)

To help you, you can refer to this LiveFist poll, made 7 months ago. it shows the web opinion about which aircraft will most probably loose.

Note that I have removed the mig-35 from the list as it is almost certain that it has been discarded.

Let's vote !

Libya, First picture of a Rafale with full LGB capability

This picture of a Rafale C with 4 GBU-12 and a damocles pod is the first one to demonstrate this capability on the plane during an actual war mission.
The Damocles pod has been in opval on the Rafale in the French air force and Navy for one year and the Navy has reported its first use last January in Afghanistan but only for test purposes.
It's worth noting that the patrol of 2 Rafale shown in these pictures is carrying a powerfull mix of 4 GBU-12 and 6 AASM... a firepower equals to 5 Mirage 2000D.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Libya, take off from the CdG and air Refueling

No comment...

Catapultages pour la Libye à bord du... par ministeredeladefense

Libye : ravitaillements en vol par ministeredeladefense

In the press, Rafale operations over Libya

Libya strikes showcase French warplane

By Andrew Rettman
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Many commentators believe the Libya air strikes are a pre-election advert for President Nicolas Sarkozy. Some believe they are also an advert for France's badly-selling Rafale jet fighter.
Several EU diplomats and even one foreign minister speaking off the record in Brussels in the run-up to the Libya campaign pointed to next year's French presidential elections as a big reason for Sarkozy's enthusiasm to take on the Libyan dictator.

But looking in detail at French operations in Libya, military analysts have also said that France is using the war to promote its badly-selling €60-million-per-unit Rafale fighter.

Read the Full article here

France's floating frontline against Libya's Gaddafi

Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:41pm GMT
By Elizabeth Pineau
ABOARD AIRCRAFT CARRIER CHARLES DE GAULLE (Reuters) - Dressed in a khaki uniform and protective helmet, a French pilot emerges from the Rafale fighter jet that just landed on the deck of the Charles de Gaulle carrier, back from another mission over Libya.
A dozen mechanics scramble to assess the plane: the fuel specialists wear red, the maintenance crew green and the on-deck traffic controllers wear yellow, barking orders that have earned them the French nickname "yellow dogs".

Read the Full article here

Libya, days 9 and 10

Rafale M with budy-budy refueling loadout
Sunday March, 27th : Air strikes on armored vehicles and large ammunition stocks in Misrata and Zintan zones.

Recce : 2 Rafale M
Interdiction : 4 Rafale air / 2 Mirage 2000D / 2  Sem
Air Defense : 2 Mirage 2000-5F / 2 Mirage 2000-5EDA (Qatar)

Later in the evening 4 Rafale (2 air and 2 M) have struck a command center south of Tripoli while 2 othe Rafale M were performing another recce mission.

Monday March 28th : Same patrol zone and same order of battle as Sunday 27th. No strike reported at 06h00pm.
edit : At 10h00 pm, Defense journalist JM. Tangy reports that all the Rafale has came back to Solenzara Air base without their AASM.

Recce : 2 Rafale M
Interdiction : 4 Rafale air / 2 Mirage 2000D / 2 Sem
Air Defense : 2 Mirage 2000-5F / 2 Mirage 2000-5EDA (Qatar)

For several days, some rafale are spotted with an unusal loadout : Apparently at least one Rafale in each flight  is loaded with a damocles pod whereas the planes are only armed with AASM bombs which are GPS guided (see the Rafale C on the left). The best bet is that the LDP is used to feed the AASM with GPS coordinates (especially for opportunity targets). The pod can also be usefull for damage assessment and off course for visual identification of the targets prior to any strike

Source and Pictures credit : French MoD

Sunday, March 27, 2011

UAE Rafale deal at risk because of Thales disagreement on offsets rules

Mr. Vigneron (Thales) and Mr. Edelstenne (Dassault aviation)
PARIS, March 25 (Reuters) - France's Thales (TCFP.PA) said on Friday it was close to agreement with the United Arab Emirates on the offset rules in possible arms contracts after a diplomatic row was disclosed by a French newspaper.
La Tribune daily reported that French diplomats had warned Thales that French interests were at risk over the company's stand on offsets, or counter-trade, as France campaigns to sell Rafale warplanes to the Emirates. [ID:nLDE72N2B0]
"This negotiation has been going on for several months and like all negotiations has experienced some highs and lows. We are currently in a state of convergence," a Thales spokesman said, adding the company was surprised about the leak.
"The negotiation should be completed in coming weeks."
Thales makes radar for the French warplane, which is built by Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA).

Fighting Spirit exercise

Rafale M. Picture credit : French Navy
The British exercise "Fighting Spirit" took place in Corwall between March 14th and 17th. In addition to the Royal Navy HMS Edinburgh Type-42 Destroyer and RAF E-3D AWACS, Rafale M from Landivisiau AB and USAFE F-15 C/E from Lakenheath AB were involved in the meeting. It is worth noting that Link 16 transmissions were used between the British ship/AWACS and the French Rafale.

According to the French Navy : "4 to 6 Rafale M were taking part in the training each day. Rafale pilots had the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to face F-15 fighters equiped with very efficient radar. By observing the US tactics, they managed to adapt and enhance theirs."

Source : French Mod

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rafale over Libya, days 7 and 8

The air operations over Libya are continuing for the French Air Force and Navy. Since last saturday March 21st, the Rafale is flying on a daily basis over the Libyan territory, exploiting almost the whole spectrum of its capabilities :

  • Air defense with mica IR/EM missiles
  • Stand off strikes with scalp-EG
  • CAS and interdiction with AASM and GBU-12 bombs
  • live Reconnaissance with reco-NG / AEREOS pod
  • budy-budy refueling 
A GBU is loaded on a Rafale M
Wednesday March, 25th : French fighters are now operating over Misrata, Zintan, Syrte an Ajdabiyah zones. A total of 30 planes (fighters, AWACS, Tankers...) were engaged in various tasks.

Recce : 2 Rafale air / 2 Rafale M
Interdiction : 4 Rafale air / 4 Mirage 2000D / 1 Rafale M / 1 Sem
Air Defense : 2 Mirage 2000-5F / 2 Mirage 2000-5EDA (Qatar) : those aircraft are base at La Sude, Crete

Rafale C with 4 AASM and a Damocles pod
Saturday March 26th : The French MoD is reporting several strikes on the Zintan and Misrata zones. 5 Soko Galeb attack fighters and 2 Mi-35 attack helicopters would have been destroyed on the Misrata Air Base.

Recce : 2 Rafale M
Interdiction : 4 Rafale air / 4 Mirage 2000D / 2 Rafale M / 2 Sem
Air Defense : 2 Mirage 2000-5F / 2 Mirage 2000-5EDA (Qatar)

Source and Pictures credit : French MoD

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dassault executive blacklisted by Indian Air Force

The Times of India reported on Wednesday March 23rd, that Dassault's representative in India, Mr. Posina V Rao had been blacklisted by the indian Air Force after he raised a formal complain to the indian ministry of Defense about a bribery attempt by an IAF officer at Aero india 2011.

It seems that the IAF didn't appreciate the fact that Mr. Rao directly complained to the Indian Ministy of Defense instead of notifying the issue to the IAF first. The consequence being that Rao can't participate in IAF meeting anymore.
The IAF behaviour is quite strange in this affair and seems to indicate that there might be strong divergent interests between the IAF and the Indian Mod.

Source : LiveFist

Libya, First aircraft Kill for a Rafale

Thursday March 24th was a busy day for the Rafale and Mirage 2000D fleet. After the scalp raid on the Hun air base, the Mod reports that 1 Recce and 4 interdiction missions have been performed.
  • Recce : 2 Rafale (French Air Force)
  • Interdiction : 2 Mirage 2000D + 4 Rafale B/C + 2 Rafale M + 2 Super Etendard (GBU-12 + AASM bombs) 
During these missions, a Libyan Soko G-2A-E Galeb has been detected above the city of Misratah by an E-3. As it was a direct violation of the UN resolution 1973, a patrol of Rafale and Mirage 2000 was tasked to intercept the Galeb which was eventually destroyed just after landing on the Misratah airport by an AASM fired from a Rafale.

As a side note, it seems that the Scalp strikes were performed by Rafale B whereas the single seaters Rafale C/M are prefered for CAS and interdiction mission with the AASM guided bomb. It might be a good indication of the efficiency of the Rafale weapon system as far as workload is concerned.

In flight pictures of Rafale C + AASM taken by Thomas Goisque on Monday March 21st can be seen here.

Also read :
Pictures credit : French Mod

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Libya, Scalp strike on Hun Air base

Rafale M23 takes off the CdG with a scalp - March 23-24th 2011
The French Mod has reported that the french Air Force and Navy have conducted a join long range scalp strike on an unnamed Libyan Air base (Hun Air Base according to RFI) during the wednesday-Thursday 23rd-24th night.
6 Fighters were involved : 2 Mirage 2000D, 2 Rafale B and 2 Rafale M from the CdG. Therefore possibly 6 to 8 scalp missiles were fired.
These are the first scalp missiles ever fired by the French forces and thus, the Rafale, during an actual war mission.

Pictures credit : French Mod
Weapon specialist load a scalp on a Rafale B - March 23-24th 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Libya, stunning video of the carrier operations onboard the CdG

This video from the French Navy is of oustanding quality and show the first Rafale landings and take off while the CdG was sailing to Lybia on Monday March 21st. Play it loud ! the raw sound on the deck of the aircraft carrier is astonishing.

Note at 5:00 the 2 Rafale are launched with their Damocles pods. Although the French Navy had performed some tests over Afghanistan with the Damocles LDP last January, this is the first time that pictures of operational Rafale M are released with this pod on the CdG.

At the end of the video we can also watch the loading of a live Mica IR Missile on the Wing tip of a Rafale. Quite a rare sight too. 

Libya : The CdG is powering up by ministeredeladefense

First Rafale M mission over Libya

 As planed, the first operation from the Aircraft carrier CdG has begun Tuesday March 22nd. 2 Rafale M F3 have performed a recce mission with the Reco-NG pod

Pictures :

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is Libya just a big commercial show for the Rafale ?

That's the question asked by many observators and reported by AFP today.
The Rafale is currently compeating in several countries against the Boeing F-18E Super Hornet : Brazil, India, UAE, Kuweit and Qatar.
If the French plane is in good position for all those deals it has, so far failed to secure any of them despite a strong political support from the French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the "combat proven" label earned thanks to several campaigns in Afghanistan.

Some unnamed Sources have told the AFP that the Libyan Campaign was the best opportunity to showcase all the Rafale capabilities in a more "popular" conflict than Afghanistan.

It is worth noting, for example, that the Rafale were the first fighters to enter the Libyan airspace prior to any SEAD operations and presumely without the usual heavy EAW jamming from dedicated US planes. Even if Benghazy was not heavily defended by SAM, this event clearly showed the confidence of the French Air Force in the Rafale ability to penetrate safely in an hostile air space without any SEAD or external EAW support. Some potential customer may have appreciated the demo...

Furthermore, while US president Barack Obama was trying to praise the Super Hornet to Dilma Russeff in Brazil, the pictures of the Rafale taking off the Saint Dizier AB to strike Gaddafi forces were on all TV channels around the world.

To conclude this "Rafale show", the annoucement of the first tank kill by the French planes occured right in the middle of the Ministry of Defense press conference :  Rafale making History by stopping Gaddafi evil Forces and saving Benghazi innocent people live on TV ! Dassault marketting team couln't have dreamed of a better timing !

Whatever we might think about all this, the fact remains that the Rafale which took off Saturday morning probably saved many lives in Benghazy. But the credits for those lives should be given first to the pilots rather than to the machines.

Rafale over Libya, day 3

Typical Air to Ground Loadout : 4 AASM and 2 mica IR
The French Air Force Rafale have made several CAS and recce missions Sunday and Monday but they didn't fired any weapon. . However a Mirage 2000D did destroyed a Libyan tank some 100 km off Benghazi Monday afternoon. The French Fighter bomber probably used a GB-12.
Since Monday, most of the Rafale are operating from the Corsican base of Solenzara (BA126)
Tomorrow, Tuesday 22th, the 8 Rafale M of the CdG will start their flights over Libya

Monday, March 21, 2011

The 8 Rafale M of operation Odyssey dawn in one shot

8 Rafale and 6 super Etendard took off the Landivisiau Naval Base on Sunday 20th, 02h15 PM (local time) to rejoin the CdG Aircraft carrier.

According to the French Spotter "Ben" from Delta Reflex the fighters serial numbers were :

  • Rafale M12, M15, M19, M20, M21, M23 M24 and M26 (with either 3x1250L tanks and mica missile or 2x2000L tanks and triple-bomb pylons)
  • Super Etendard : 10, 37, 43, 44, 53, 65

French Air Force official video and pictures of Saturday 19th

The French MOD has released a few pictures of the Rafale departure, Saturday morning just before the first Air patrols over Benghazi, Libya.:

Mica Missiles containers being loaded in a C-160

Rafale pilot get off his plane after a recce mission

Weapon specialist loads an AASM smart bomb on a Rafale

Rafale C takes off the St Dizier Air base for a recce mission

Rafale C takes off the St Dizier Air base for a recce mission

2 Rafale at the Saint Dizier AB after their mission over Libya

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The CdG on its way to Libya

3 weeks after the end of mission Agapanthe in the Indian ocean, the French aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, has left Toulon at 01h30 PM (local time). The ship should be on station in about 24h but the first flights should start in about 36-48 H, the time for the pilots to get their carrier landing qualification back. Indeed, Although the French pilots are training intensively since Friday from the Landivisiau Naval base, they all have to perform a few real carrier landing before being allowed to fly war missions over Libya.

In addition to its airgroup of 8 Rafale F3, 6 Super Etendard and 2 E-2C Hawkeye, the CdG will be escorted by the following ships :
  • ASW Frigate Dupleix 
  • Lafayette class Frigate Aconite 
  • Tanker meuse
  • An unknown nuclear Submarine
  • The Anti air warfare frigates Forbin (Horizon class) and Jean Bart are already deployed in the Libyan seas. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Operation Harmattan : First pictures of the Rafale which were engaged in Libya

Rafale C loaded with Mica 6 mica missiles for Air defense

Pictures of the French Rafale preparing to leave the Saint Dizier Air Base today morning 11:00AM.

Typical weapon load was :
- 6 Mica EM/IR + 3 supersonic 1250L tanks for the Air defense Rafale
- 6 mica EM/IR + 1 Reco-NG pod + 2 subsonic 2000L tanks for the recce planes.
- 2 mica IR + 4 AASM bombs (250 kg) + 2 subsonic 2000L tank for the CAS planes
Source : French Ministry of Defense
Rafale loaded with AASM bombs

 Also see  this video from AFP
 and From Al Jazeera

Rafale C loaded with Mica 6 mica missiles for Air defense
Rafale  loaded with Reco-NG pod

Details on the Rafale mission over Libya

All in all, some 20 airplanes are conducting the first missions over libya

11h00 AM 4 Rafale C (Provence squadron) armed with mica missiles left the Saint Dizier Air base to enforce the No Flight Zone over Libya (UN resolution 1973)

11h10 AM  A patrol of 2 more Rafale B with a Reco-NG pod left the Dizier Air base for a recce mission over Libya.

02h30 PM 2 mirage 2000D (Ardennes squadron / Nancy Air Base) escorted by 2 mirage 2000-5 (Cigognes squadron / Dijon Air Base) as well as 2 Rafale with AASM bombs rejoin Libya for CAS operations

Other air assets taking part in this first day : 6 French Boeing C135 (Bretagne squadron) and 1 E-3F from Istres and Avor Air bases.

EA-18G Growler with their 2 ALQ-99 jaming pods ready  to take off
American EA-18G Growler have also been seen on an Italian Air base and will take part in the SEAD operations.

At 05h45PM, the French MoD revealed that one of those fighters shot at a military Libyan vehicule.
Edit 1 : Qatar TV, Al Jazzeera is reporting that at least 4 Libyan tanks would have been detroyed by French fighters.
Edit 2 : It is now confirmed that a Rafale B from the Gascogne squadron has attaked a Libyan tank column with its AASM bombs detroying 4 of them.

French fighters engaged in the first stage of the operations over Libya

Source: Press conference of the French defense Ministry.
BBC News
Thanks to Tmor for additional info ;)

Rafale goes to Libya....for war

Paris, 03h00pm French authorities confirm that French fighters have entered the Lybian air space and are currently performing recce missions.
Those Fighters are Rafale with Reco-NG pods from the Saint Dizier Air base and are said to also carry weapons to engage Gaddafi ground forces currently attacking Benghazi.

In the meantimes, the CdG aircraft carrier is preparing to leave its home base of Toulon tomorrow morning.

In the media :
Al Arabiya

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rafale pictures of the day

Rafale C120 during the Kecskemet air show in Hungary, August 6th 2010 - © Marcin R. Karch 
Rafale C120 at Yelahanka Air Force Station, India, February, 9th 2011 - © Nitin Nair

Source : 

Pictures of the Meteor wind tunnel trials

Some very interesting shots of the MBDA Meteor missile in the ONERA S3MA wind tunnel.
S3MA wind tunnel overview

The S3MA facility is a supersonic wind tunnel capable of producing powerfull wind streams up to mach 5.5. It's located on the site of Modane Avrieux in the French Alpes and is the primary testing setup for French Missiles aerodynamics since 1959

Source :

Overview of the Meteor in the S3MA chamber
IR imagery of the missile airframe during high mach trials
Air intake shields opening